'Make or Break' Questions

Many of the questions you will be asked are designed to show whether you are honest, have integrity, and possess leadership qualities. They also assess how well you control certain emotions and handle yourself in stressful situations.

‘Make or Break’ Personality Questions

Organizations are looking for like-minded individuals who will easily fit into their culture and work patterns. The qualities they are seeking to identify are both desirable and undesirable (as shown in the diagram) and they use personality questionnaires to assess such qualities.

The sample questions below have been split into seven keys areas that are part of most personality questionnaires. Each section explains how answers to these questions can be interpreted and guides you as to how best to answer them.

These questions require you to give clear answers, and strongly agreeing or disagreeing with the statement made in the question is the best course. The table gives examples of both types of questions.

Honesty/Integrity personality questions

Organizations see anger in the work place as destructive and undesirable. These questions give you no opportunity to give an explanation, so you need to ensure your answers show that you are able to control anger. The interpretation of 'anger' also incorporates acts of corporate vandalism or revenge, such as computer hacking, viruses, and leaking of information.

Anger personality questions

Managers need to portray themselves as an individual who can cope with sporadic increases in their workload and handle the unexpected in a structured and controlled manner. It is vital that your answers show how well you deal with these situations.

stress related questions

Leadership is an essential quality organizations require in their managers. Be aware of your leadership style and assess how well this matches that of the role and modify your answers to show your leadership qualities.

Leadership related questions

Personal Motivation
This is an essential quality for any manager and your answers to the personality questions must reflect a high level of this quality. Organizations require that every employee gives 100% to performing their role and is totally committed to the organization.

Motivation related questions

With the increase in service and customer-focused management roles the traits of extroverts such as friendliness, assertiveness, and cheerfulness need to be displayed appropriately.

Extraversion related questions

Typical 'Checking' Questions
These are the questions questionnaire designers include to check if an individual is trying to influence or 'fake' their answers. You can spot them quite easily with practice because you are being asked to agree with an unconditional statement. They consistently use words such as: 'always' or 'never,' where you'd prefer to use 'occasionally,' 'very occasionally,' or 'usually' as they are a more honest response. 'ever' or 'whatever,' when rephrasing the question and using words such as 'rarely' would be more honest. For example, 'None of my close friends has ever upset me' becomes 'My close friends rarely upset me.'

The following table shows you some examples of typical checking or control questions.

Checking questions

It is important to answer control questions such as 'I never tell white lies' honestly because it will not be detrimental to you. Where they relate to qualities such as dealing with stress, anger, or integrity, and use unconditional statements such as 'always' or 'never,' you will be expected to strongly agree or strongly disagree with them.

The past 30 years have seen changes in the way that organizations operate. Specifically, there has been a move towards more knowledge-based and customer-focused jobs, and fewer levels of management mean that individuals have more autonomy than ever before.

In most working situations it's the compatibility of managers and team members that affect the day-to-day success of the organization; both of these groups need to buy in to the ethos and culture of the organization.

This combination of factors means that many employers now use personality tests or questionnaires as part of the job selection process. These tests attempt to measure various aspects of your personality in a quantitative way. There is some debate as to whether or not it is possible to prepare yourself for them, but understanding how they are supposed to work can help you to make your own decision about this.

Most personality questionnaires present you with between 50-200 questions and ask you to choose from two, five, or seven answers. The fact that many of the questions are open to wide interpretation is a fundamental problem with these tests. Although the test designers try to overcome this by asking the same thing in several different ways and then collating the answers, there is very little evidence that this overcomes the problem and academic psychologists tend to be skeptical of claims made by personality test providers regarding how useful these test actually are in predicting workplace performance.

Most people modify their day-to-day behavior to suit the role or culture they are working in. This involves stepping outside of their natural behavioral preferences in order to get the job done. Consequently, you should answer personality questionnaires from the perspective of your own 'work personality,' which may be rather different from the personality you present to your family and friends. The most important thing is not to lie, and to avoid raising 'red flags' that would result in you being rejected for roles that your track record and competencies show you are ideal for.

You may also be interested in:
Management Personality Tests | The 'Big 5' Aspects of Personality | Popular Personality Questionnaires | Validity Scales | Defining Your Work Personality | 'Make or Break' Questions.

Key Points

  • There are certain personality traits that every employer sees as desirable. These include: honesty, integrity, self-motivation, and self-discipline.
  • Extraversion is also seen as a desirable quality even if the role does not obviously demand it.
  • There are certain personality traits that every employer sees as undesirable. These include: deceitfulness, inability to control anger, and inability to handle stress.
  • Answering these questions 'wrongly' can result in you being rejected, because the questionnaires do not take account of mitigating circumstances.
  • Impression control questions are designed to check for people 'faking' their answers. They use words such as 'always' or 'never,' where 'occasionally', 'very occasionally,' or 'usually' would be a more honest response.
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